Posted on: June 20, 2008 10:22 am

What I've learned while on vacation...

 Forget about Notre Dame joining the Big Ten, Big East, etc...At least in the short term. The school re-upped with NBC in football this week through the 2015 season. That contract is the biggest reason Notre Dame has no reason to look around. The deal, now worth more than $10 million per season, still means Notre Dame gets to keep all the money. No other school has such a deal. That's equivalent to four Sugar Bowls each year for Hawaii which cleared $2.2 million from its first-ever BCS bowl.

Any conference discussions for Notre Dame would include the sticky situation of revenue distribution. ND would be silly to share any of it. Even though ratings were down during Notre Dame's 3-9 season, NBC obviously still sees a valuable television property.

 That brings us to the Big East and Mike Tranghese. The league is losing its heart and soul when Tranghese retires. The long-time commissioner was around when the league was formed in 1979 and kept it alive a few years ago when the ACC conducted its raid. The league is strong now but will continue to be vulnerable to another raid, especially if gas prices keep heading up and the economy keeps going in the tank.

One thought is that energy prices will force leagues to consolidate to save on costs. We already have four leagues of at least 12 teams (MAC, Big 12, ACC, SEC). Could there be more on the horizon? And would the Big East be vulnerable again?

 Among the cities to put in bids for upcoming Final Fours are Phoenix and Dallas. Might as well book both towns in the next decade. Phoenix has the new Phoenix University Stadium (home of the 2007 BCS title game). Dallas is going online next year with Jerry Jones' new stadium in Dallas, which could be the best stadium in the world.

Is there any doubt, then, the Jerry Dome (don't know what else to call it) will eventually be in the BCS rotation. The Cotton Bowl already has moved its game there.

 One local business owner told me that tourism is off 20 percent in Hawaii. The family and I went to paradise this month and something was missing: People. The real spike in airline prices hasn't hit yet. The beaches, hotels and towns just weren't as packed as they usually are this season. A person running a beach-related business told me she was "scared" about the drop off in tourism business.

 Still, it's hard to find a place where in one day you can see a 40-foot whale shark (it passed in front of our boat), spinner dolphins, sea turtles and Alice Cooper. The legendary rocker was getting up from his dinner at the Maui Marriott as we were sitting down. And, no, he didn't have snake.

 Even when it rains, the College World Series is still the best amateur event out there. Thursday was a washout but I'll be back in Omaha for the championship series next week. That will make it 17 consecutive years for me at the CWS and, yes, you are jealous.






Posted on: May 1, 2008 1:00 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2008 2:50 pm

The real story behind the BCS meetings

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's calculated plan worked.

Tuesday at lunch, Delany emerged from the BCS meetings and went on a rant about his place (and his conference's place) in the postseason. Remember, Delany doesn't talk publicly about much of anything with reporters. At least lately. This past week he has been practically chatty talking about his league's perception. He, the Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl aren't obstructionists, he said, in college football's postseason. In fact, Delany contended, that the Big Ten and Pac-10 have been progressive in helping deliver the Rose Bowl to the BCS. Without it we'd still in the old Bowl Coalition.

"The characterization of the Big Ten and Pac-10 being at one place and everyone else being at the other place, I don't think that's accurate," Delany said. "You guys (media) have an opportunity to talk to a lot of people here. I would ask you to ask each one of those people how strongly they feel about the call for change. I don't see it."

Then Delany lobbed the bomb that changed the course of these meetings.

"Thirty-six months ago, all six commissioners, all six (BCS oversight committee) presidents, the AD advisory committee said we don't want a plus one," Delany said. "About 18 months ago, people people said let's look at it. I think there are a lot of people who like where they are, but they should speak for themselves."

Basically, Delany called out his peers.

If you want a plus-one, identify yourself.

On Wednesday, they did. The six BCS bosses were paraded out for the media to state their case. For: ACC commissioner and the SEC's Mike Slive. Against: Everyone else -- Big 12, Big East, Pac-10, Big Ten and Notre Dame AD Kevin White.

Considering the group needs a consensus to change things, there's a loooooonnnng way to go before we get a playoff. The Big 12 presidents considered the issue in March and turned it down flat. Big East commish Mike Tranghese said, "We're opposed to a playoff. We don't think a playoff is in the best interests of college football."

The great thing was hearing all these powerful public. None of us (media) thought a plus-one would be passed but we weren't expecting what was essentially a public vote. Now these guys are on record. If you want to write your local congressman, er, commissioner now you know where to go.

  Slive, who stuck his neck out and presented the plus-one, was disappointed that the issue wasn't "vetted" more by presidents at the conference level. The Big 12 was the only league that formally presented the issue to its presidents. The Big 12 presidents rejected anything resembling an NFL-style playoff that meant a team would have to play more than 14 games. A Big 12 champion playing in a plus-one championship game would be playing in its 15th game.

  The so-called Group of Five non-BCS conferences (WAC, MAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt) have a combined vote but didn't use it because a formal vote wasn't taken.

"There could have been support for a plus-one model if it meant a better chance for a team from the Group of Five to have a chance to play in it," said WAC commissioner Karl Benson. But we're happy with the system with the way it is. It has provided access and it has provided revenue."

  The so-called "bracket creep" argument doesn't make sense. Several commissioners said they were concerned that a four-team bracket would soon expand to eight or 16. Don't believe the hype. The BCS commissioners (and their presidents) control the BCS. That's different from Divisions I-AA, III and III where NCAA committees control the playoffs.

If the commissioners and presidents wanted a playoff to end at four, it would end at four. There would be no group above them who could overrule.

While I was in Florida ...

  These schools had more players drafted than Alabama (which had none): Arkansas State, Army, Bentley, Buffalo, Coastal Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, Furman, Gardner-Webb, Hampton, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwest Missouri State, St. Augustine's and Wheaton.

  Matthew Stafford somehow got anointed as the No. 1 quarterback in next year's draft. Stafford is popular with the honeys, loves NASCAR and can lift a keg over his head, but to call him the best NFL quarterbacks prospect after only two seasons? It must be a shallow draft next year. Matthew has yet to throw for 300 yards but has been held under 100 yards six times.

  Two more bowls made the postseason cut. The approval of the St. Petersburg and Congressional bowls by the NCAA on Thursday brings the number to 34. That's 68 teams for a division that produced only 71 bowl-eligible teams last season. That's also three more than the NCAA Tournament. I'm waiting for the time when the St. Pete and Congressional have to petition the NCAA to allow a 5-7 team in its shindig because there aren't enough teams to go around.





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